Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
1/7/2013
11:37 AM
Larry Seltzer
Larry Seltzer
Commentary
Connect Directly
Twitter
Facebook
Google+
LinkedIn
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

Jailbreak Windows RT - Why? Beats Me

A researcher has found a way to jailbreak a Microsoft Surface or other ARM-based Windows RT system. Research to find a reason to do so is a much harder task.

Word is spreading of a jailbreak for Windows RT, or rather a vulnerability in Windows RT that can be exploited to produce a jailbreak. What does that mean? Windows RT is the ARM processor-based version of Windows 8 that runs on Microsoft's Surface RT and some OEM devices. Just as Apple restricts app installs on iOS to their own App Store, Microsoft has restricted Windows RT users to installing only apps from the Windows Store.

In order to install software not approved by Apple, hackers have developed jailbreaks for iOS over the years. A jailbreak is an exploit of a privilege escalation vulnerability in order to allow the user to install software from other sources.

So why would you want to do this on Windows RT? There are, as of yet, no unauthorized apps. The idea in many of today's stories on the jailbreak seems to be that you will be able to run legacy Windows programs, but this is pretty obviously mistaken: legacy Windows programs are, almost exclusively, compiled for Intel processors, and never for ARM. They can't run on RT. Computerworld's Richi Jennings tells me that tests show .NET apps run unmodified, but even if that's true, who cares? How many .NET apps do you have lying around that you want to run on your Surface?

I don't want to denigrate the research done by "C. L. Rokr." Work like this is important for security, and the jailbreak is an exploit of a vulnerability. But his "discovery" that Windows RT is basically just Windows is not much of a discovery. That's what it's supposed to be.

And is a jailbreak useful for Windows RT users? Not really. If you want to run legacy Windows apps, buy an Intel-based Windows 8 system instead of RT. There are actually programs available for it and the system is designed to run them.

Hat tip to Richi Jennings's IT Blogwatch in Computerworld..

Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Server Market Splitsville
Server Market Splitsville
Just because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Dec. 9, 2014
Apps will make or break the tablet as a work device, but don't shortchange critical factors related to hardware, security, peripherals, and integration.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.